The VA’s Duty to Assist

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VA’s Obligations

When you decide to file a VA disability claim, there is a lot of paperwork you must fill out and provide to the Veteran’s Administration. You must turn in the Veterans Application for Compensation and/or pension, your DD 214 discharge papers, any dependency records, and all medical records and evidence relevant to your disability. Sometimes these necessary records are difficult to get ahold of. Perhaps you do not know what specific medical evidence you need to provide. When this is the case, not all the responsibility to find and get ahold of this information falls upon your shoulders. The VA office carries a significant portion of that obligation.

The Veteran’s Claim Assistance Act

The Veteran’s Claim Assistance Act (VCAA) was instituted in 2000 with the intent to assist and inform veterans. This legislation was a reaction against the staggering amount of claims that were being rejected on the basis that the claim had no backing. Most of these denials were unfounded and were merely an attempt to quickly eliminate claims. According to this law, the Veteran’s Administration has the duty to assist a veteran to develop all necessary evidence, as well as the obligation to inform the veteran at every stage in the process of what must be done to develop a proper grounding for the claim.

Requirements of VCAA

This law was designed to bring more fairness into the disability claim system. Now the VA is required by law to make an effort to acquire relevant records that the veteran authorizes. They must also try to find service medical records that are in the possession of other federal agencies. The final requirement is that they must provide a medical examination for the current disability that the veteran is suffering from. This evaluation is meant to determine whether or not that impairment is related to their service in the military.



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